Admission Time. When Playstation All-Stars was first revealed, I completely wrote it off as Sony’s attempt to dig into Nintendo’s popular brawler, Super Smash Bros. Based on the information and screen shots revealed back then, it had that same look and feel. Fast forward months later, the beta has gone public and I was finally able to settle things and get the answers to my questions. So what was the outcome? Is it just another Smash Bros clone?
It’s a tough one to answer to be honest. You can definitely see the inspiration behind All-Stars and while the core gameplay may be different, the controls will feel ultimately familiar to Smash Bros veterans. The controls are pretty much exactly what you’d expect with base attacks assigned to Square, Triangle, and Circle face buttons and each can be modified by holding a direction when pressing the button. Characters can also jump, perform throws, and dodge in midair. This control set up (exactly like Smash Bros) keeps things simple but allow you to start seeing a more complex design underneath as you put more time into the game.
The big gameplay hook for All-Stars is behind the Super attack system and is one of the ways it tries to distance itself from the competition. While characters take no damage from attacks, you actually build up a meter that can stack 3 times with each allowing you to pull off a super move with the third level clearing the entire map. They’re all very flashy, very cool, and character/game specific. Characters can also chain a few moves together allowing you to fill your meter faster. It adds an interesting strategic element deciding when to use your special attack, or save it for a bigger benefit. The whole “no damage” things still throws me off a bit, but it’s not really something you notice as you’re playing.
The maps are also interesting, combining two Playstation games. The beta contains only two maps the first showing the futuristic city of Metropolis which eventually evolves into a God of War II stage as the Hydra shoots up to chaos a little chaos. The second starts down in Hades’ lair from God of War III upon which little Patapons appear in the background to mix things up. The maps themselves are well made and dynamic making them a lot of fun. The only issue that I have is how far back the camera gets pulled sometimes to fit all four characters on the screen. With all the explosions, colors and other effects, it’s quite easy to loose your character in the chaos.
While I know this is a beta mainly used to fine tune the final product, I would have loved to have had a few more gameplay options. It’s pretty bare bones when you jump into it, only offering players a tutorial and an online match. I would have loved maybe a quick match against bots if only just to learn the controls better and especially each character’s move set. As it stands now, it’ll take you a few matches to really get a feel for what your doing rather than just button mashing.
Frankly, if you’re a fan of Smash Bros style games, Playstation All-Stars is right up your alley. It feels familiar but seems to do enough to separate itself from being just another clone. Plus, with the wealth of Playstation fan service, if you’ve been a longtime consumer, you’ll definitely find things to love here. The most important element is that the game is fun and fit’s the “party” style game really well. If you’re looking for a more traditional fighting game, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to ultimately see how many modes and options are available to players once the game ships because if a game like this doesn’t have enough hooks, it’ll get pushed to the side rather quickly.